JACKSON, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from Jackson State University
The Polling Center at Jackson State University's Institute of Government has released a national survey of 283 adults. The Poll on public education quality, programming, testing, funding was conducted November 24 – December 5, 2014.
Strong majorities of Mississippians surveyed, 67.3%, believe that public schools are significantly (32.7%) or somewhat (34.5%) underfunded.
Nearly two-thirds of Mississippians surveyed, 63.3%, indicated they were very or somewhat aware of local public school funding.
Respondents reported wanting to see the responsibility for funding local public schools shift somewhat from the local government and even state government to the federal government. Today, 21.0% of respondents suggested that most public school funding comes from the federal government. However, 30.2% suggested that most funding should come from the federal government.
While 14.2% indicated that most public school funding comes from local government today, just 12.1% suggest public school funding should come from the local government.
Just 45.9% of Mississippians agreed their own state adequately funds public schools; Many are willing to pay somewhat more in taxes to better fund public schools – 63.7%; Only 27.4% agreed that public schools are funded equitably or evenly across jurisdictions; A strong majority, 69.8%, agreed that good performing schools are generally better funded; A large majority, 86.1%, agreed that the better public schools do, the better the economy does; Nearly three-quarters, 72.2%, agreed that poor performing school are most likely to be situated in poorer communities; Nearly three-quarters, 70.8%, would prefer to see public school funds increased by moving tax funds from other less important programs before increasing taxes; Many, 68.3%, support consolidation of school districts to save money; and A majority, 63.3%, agreed that they seek out and support candidates who advocate for increased public school funding. Respondents were presented with information on unfunded mandates: "Sometimes the Federal or State government makes new requirements for programs, services or testing on local public school systems without providing the funds for implementation. Some refer to these as "unfunded mandates" leaving the municipalities to find funds to meet these new requirements." When asked who is MOST responsible for funding of unfunded mandates, 28.1% suggested the "mandating authority" while 24.9% suggested the federal government and 16.1% indicated the state government. Few, 4.6%, suggested the local government or school districts. Another 21.4% noted funding should come from a combination of sources.
When extrapolated on the total population, a large percentage, 21.0%, see the condition of public schools as either dangerously neglected (5.3%) or neglected (15.7%).
"The polling results confirm what we already know," said Dr. Daniel Watkins, dean of the College of Education and Human Development at JSU. "And that is, collectively, we can do more for the state of Mississippi. We must make education our number 1 priority, especially early childhood education."